Over the last decade — in outlets reaching from construction industry journals to the Boston Globe and the Economist; from CNN and Fast Company to Popular Mechanics; to Nautilus and TED talks — we’ve been hearing increasingly about mass timber and related phenomena: “CLT,” big wood, tall wood, tall timber, timber towers, ply-rises, plyscrapers, ply in the sky, super-ply, Brobdingnagian boards, and all manner of engineered arboreal futures.
So what’s the huge deal about mass timber? What on earth’s so good about wood? Is CLT the new CBD (for builders, that is)? Can ply really get that high? Is this just a big buncha buzz, or is something more solid behind it?
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Modular construction — sometimes also known as prefabricated, prefab, prebuilt, manufactured, factory-built, or panelized construction — ain’t no stroll in the trailer park. Although double-wides and modular prefabs sometimes roll off the same factory floor, the similarities end there between mobile homes and true modular construction, which is gaining a foothold in markets as builders and developers look for higher-quality, more efficient construction processes.
Like component construction, modular building takes much of the labor off of the construction site and puts it on a factory floor, where assembly can be value-engineered to minimize waste and maximize speed and overall product quality. And while modular building includes trusses and panels, modular component facilities are much more than your run-of-the-mill truss plant.
Continue reading “Modular Building: a Faster, Higher-Quality Alternative to Stick-Built Construction”